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Warner Music Group and VKontakte Reach Agreement
Russia's social network VKontakte, a local equivalent of Facebook, has signed a confidential out-of-court agreement with Warner Music Group (WMG) as the Russian company moves to clean a record marred by music piracy. (For some recent context: the founder of VKontakte who has since left the company, Pavel Durov, announced last week his plans to support a popular filesharing service through his new venture.)
Under the new agreement VKontakte will legitimately offer WMG music to its users through United Media Agency LLC (UMA), a Russian music service provider. VKontakte, however, has yet to unveil a legitimate music service, something the company has promised to do for a long time.
"VKontakte continues to move towards cooperation with record companies and other rights holders," Boris Dobrodeev, CEO of VKontakte, said in a press release. "This agreement is another important milestone in this direction, and both music fans and rights holders will benefit."
The agreement brings VKontakte closer to the end of a legal battle with major international music companies, which began two years ago as Sony Music, Universal Music Group and WMG filed a joint lawsuit against the company over copyright infringement -- once rampant on the service -- and demanded compensation of just over 50 million rubles ($760,000).
In the summer of 2015, Sony pulled out of that suit and signed a goodwill agreement with VKontakte, details of which were not disclosed.
Last September, a St. Petersburg court ruled that VKontakte should take extra measures to prevent illegal uploads of music by its users, but declined to award any compensation to the plaintiffs. Both sides celebrated the ruling as a victory, though the labels appealed.